It’s hard to believe in this day and age
of blinged-out narcissistic rants that there was once a time when
it seemed hip-hop music could save the world. The music was bold,
fresh, and gave voice to a generation that so desperately needed to
be heard and understood. Leading that charge was the militant,
socially conscious sound of Long Island’s Public Enemy. UCSB’s
MultiCultural Center is bringing Public Enemy’s frontman Chuck D to
the Isla Vista Theater on February 15 at 7 p.m. for a talk. Here’s
why the “Hard Rhymer” should not be missed.
#1Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation of
Millions to Hold Us Back : These two albums alone cemented
Public Enemy as music royalty. A musical call to arms, these albums
simultaneously terrified parents, inspired the youth, and
confronted controversial social issues like racism, poverty, and
police brutality in a way few have rarely done before or since.
#2Rapstation.com : This Web site launched by Chuck D in 1999 was
years ahead of its time, trumpeting elements of Internet culture
that have since become mainstream. A one-stop shop for hip-hop
info, social commentary, current events, free MP3 downloads, and
ring tones, Chuck D was blazing new ground when he dropped this
dot-com on the world.
#3“Fight the Power”: The 1989 song proclaimed:
“Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me /
Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain / Motherfuck
him and John Wayne / ’Cause I’m black and I’m proud. / I’m ready
and hyped plus I’m amped / Most of my heroes don’t appear on no
stamps.” With a rallying chorus to “fight the powers that be!” it
remains disturbingly relevant today.
#4 The man himself: Above all else, Chuck D
(Carlton Douglas Ridenhour) has a vicious and brilliant political
mind. Besides penning and spitting lyrics — including the
eye-opening songs “Bin Laden” in the wake of 9/11 about America’s
funding of mujahideen and “Hell No We Ain’t All Right!” after
Katrina — Chuck D has contributed to PBS documentaries, testified
before Congress, hosted his own talk show on Air America Radio,
published a book on rap, race, and reality, and narrated a film
about the evils of the diamond trade in Africa.